Friday, 23 January 2009

WAITATI ENERGY PROJECT (column)

WAITATI ENERGY PROJECT

I hope you've had a good start to the New Year: for the WEP it's been
a busy but productive one! First, however there are a couple of things
from 2008 to catch up on:

1. Waitati Energy Survey: The University of Otago still wants survey
forms back – so please fill in what you can and return your form if
you have it floating around the house. Prizes for the early returners
have already been distributed: congratulations to Ronda Trent (1st
Prize), Louise Burnside (2nd Prize) and Cushla McCarthy (3rd Prize).
Meanwhile I've seen some preliminary results: for example, 70% of
Waitatians want to reduce energy consumption, either to save money or
to conserve the environment – that's great news!

2. Blueskin Resilient Communities Trust: the trust had a meeting on
the 18th of December, 2008, and began fine-tuning the strategic plan.
The good news for the Waitati Energy Project is that the BRCT's focus
at present is in supporting the WEP, which leads me up to the present…

At the tail end of last year, and intensively this year the WEP has
been putting together a funding bid to the Sustainable Management
Fund. We believe we've put together a really strong bid this year,
with our partners (the Otago Energy Research Centre, the Energy
Efficiency and Conservation Authority and Powerhouse Wind) all signing
up for a series of events and activities, and outcomes we're planning
for the next year and a half. When we actually sat down at the end of
last year to assess what had been achieved, we were surprised at how
long the list of accomplishments was, and humbled by the support
received. And it was clear that the momentum had built up to take a
wider approach than just building awareness. This year we'll also
tackle demand more forcefully, increase energy efficiency and begin
developing local generation options, and we will keep you all informed
in upcoming issues of 'Blueskin News'.

The first exciting thing is the progress being made on Powerhouse
Wind's prototype installation. The Waitati site chosen by PHW is
Sabina Lobitz's and Hagen Brueggerman's property at Dons Creek. Hagen
has the bit firmly between his teeth, and we'll be seeing the blade
spinning before winter, I'm betting.

The WEP will be meeting with DCC staff in February to talk about local
micro-generation collaboration, and later in the year there'll be
students measuring wind flow on at least two sites around Waitati.
Look for them on the horizon-line.

Our focus is much broader than just Waitati however, so if you receive
this 'Blueskin News' you're in our zone of activity: we're collecting
names of people interested in bulk insulation purchase, in
retro-fitting and more generally from people wanting to work on making
the transition to more sustainable lifestyles and communities.

You can join the email list by emailing scott.willis@otago.ac.nz or
visit the web-pages (http://www.transitiontowns.org.nz/waitati) or
just come along to the events publicised here and on the noticeboards.
Enjoy your summer, and solar hot-water!

by Scott Willis

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